At age 79, Ann Swain is currently the oldest member of the Burke Seniors Walking Club. She is also the fastest walker, and thus the pace setter for the group, which meets every Thursday year-round.
For the last two years, Swain has been walking two miles every day. "I have so much more energy now that I've been walking," said Swain. "On most days, I get up at 5 a.m., get dressed and take off," she said. On Thursdays, she joins the Burke Seniors Walking Club for the camaraderie.
The walking club is facilitated by the Burke/West Springfield Senior Center Without Walls (SCWOW). SCWOW is a public-private partnership among the residents of Burke, West Springfield and Fairfax Station, local businesses, places of worship and Fairfax County Government, created in 2009 to provide programs, activities and services to older adults in the community.
Deane Kiley, coordinator with the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services, facilitates the Burke Seniors Walking Club. She also teaches various classes with the Burke/West Springfield Center Without Walls, at the Mott Community Center in Fairfax and the Sully Senior Center in Centreville.
"This core group of walkers has been together for a year," said Kiley. "Seniors need to be active and they need friendships," she said. "The Burke Seniors Walking Club provides the opportunity for both. The walkers get out, hang with their peers and hear great stories."
Chih Chen agrees. "I used to walk by myself," he said. "Then I met Jerry when I took classes at the Senior Center Without Walls, and he told me about the walking club" he said. "I joined because it's more interesting to walk as a group than to walk alone, and you meet new friends."
"We're seeking new folks to join us," said participant Jerry Cantor. "We walk for an hour on Burke Center Parkway and around Lake Barton, approximately three miles, or an alternate short (no lake) route of two-plus miles," he said. "The group consists of a wonderful group of friendly seniors, men and women, 55 and up, who enjoy the outdoors, seeking friendship and staying healthy," he said.
The Burke Senior Walking Club meets in front of , 5715 Burke Centre Parkway in Burke, every Thursday. They set off at 9:30 a.m. and return to the store by about 11 a.m.
Those interested in participating in the walking club or any Senior Center Without Walls activities can view the class schedule online and print a registration form. The form can be mailed or hand delivered to SCWOW offices at the , 10225 Zion Road, Burke 22032.
"The Walking Club is free to register and participate," said Cantor. "We also take “walk ins” [no pun] at any time; just show up where we gather every Thursday morning," he said. Cantor said those who plan to drop-in should call him first (703-451-6878), as sometimes the time shifts based on the weather.
Other SCWOW activities require registration, and a small fee. For more information:
- Call SCWOW at 703-250-9181
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org